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NSF staff recognised for excellence at AMEP conference

By Fiona West | June 7, 2023

Two Navitas Skilled Futures staff members have been recognised for their outstanding contribution to the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP)* at the AMEP 75th Anniversary Service Provider Conference in Melbourne last night.

Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Genevieve Lewis, and Fairfield Youth Class Trainer, Camilla Portela, received the Awards for Excellence at the conference dinner at the State Library of Victoria, in Melbourne. The awards were presented by Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles, and Australia’s Local Hero for 2021, Rosemary Kariuki OAM.

Genevieve received her Award for Excellence for the category of ‘Commitment’, while Camilla’s was for ‘Innovation’.

NSF Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Genevieve Lewis, was recognised for her commitment to the AMEP.

Genevieve was praised for “continued commitment to the AMEP, helping to ensure it is promoted positively in the community, delivered exceptionally in the classrooms and extended through innovative and collaborative projects and events, which all contribute to genuine and desired outcomes that are mutually beneficial for both students and the wider community”.

Genevieve, who has held numerous positions at Navitas since 2013 – including trainer, Academic Team Leader, Quality Assurance Lead and Academic Manager – said, while she was thrilled to receive this award, she felt it was a recognition of the team effort to help students reach their goals.

Genevieve Lewis receives her award from Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles.

“The AMEP is such an important program for migrants and refugees in their acquisition of English for further study or work, and support with their settlement journey,” Genevieve said.

“There are so many people involved at all levels that make the AMEP succeed, including referring agencies and collaborative community organisations, as well as fantastic trainers, friendly and supportive student services staff, pathway guidance advisors, expertise in learning design and academic leadership.

“I am truly honoured to be part of such an amazing and caring team and am especially moved by the successes – small and large – of our AMEP students.”

Fairfield Youth Class Trainer, Camilla Portela, was awarded for her innovative approach to AMEP delivery.

Camilla was congratulated for her innovative delivery of the AMEP and associated projects in her youth class: “Camilla’s innovative approach to the delivery of LLND skills through unique practical and project-based applications has not only produced exceptional learning outcomes but also real-world experiences that have enabled students to grow in confidence, connect with communities and pursue further education and meaningful employment.”

Camilla, who has been teaching the Youth Class for more than five years, said it was an honour to receive this award.

Camilla Portela after receiving her award, with Australia’s Local Hero for 2021, Rosemary Kariuki OAM.

“I focus on unlocking the potential of young migrant and refugee students. I believe in helping them to look inside themselves and discover ways to find their inner strength, as they try to overcome each barrier to their education in a slow and meaningful way,” she said. “After they are able to balance their ability to cope with these issues, I begin to introduce planned activities and projects that involve hard work but promote a sense of achievement and success for the participants. These projects in the community establish a sense of belonging.

“Finally, I focus on strengthening their work competencies and establish pathways to further employment and education.

“I am extremely grateful to the Australian Government for extending the AMEP hours for refugee and migrant youth. Teaching these students is complex and it cannot be rushed. It takes time but it gives me so much joy and pride in seeing them succeed.

Navitas Skilled Futures General Manager, Jetinder Macfarlane, said it was gratifying to see two Navitas Skilled Futures staff members recognised by the Department of Home Affairs for their exceptional contributions to the AMEP.

“We are so proud of Genevieve and Camilla; of the work they have done and continue to do for the benefit of migrants and humanitarian entrants through this vital government program,” Jetinder said.

NSF General Manager, Jetinder Macfarlane says it is wonderful to see staff recognised for their contribution to the AMEP in the program’s 75th year.

“It would be hard to find anyone who has been more committed to the purpose, delivery and outcomes of the AMEP as Genevieve. Over the past 10 years, in all her roles, she has devoted her working life, and many hours outside it, to advancing the program for participants.

“Genevieve’s deep understanding, involvement and commitment to all facets of the AMEP has enabled her to help Navitas Skilled Futures achieve desired outcomes from the program for many thousands of students, genuinely helping people in their settlement journeys go on to live their best lives.”

“Camilla is equally devoted to the program, injecting energy and innovation into her teaching, always looking for ways to drive the program forward and keeping students engaged so they can enjoy the experience and reach their full potential. Camilla’s genuine interest in helping her students and seeing them progress continues to have a hugely positive impact on the students, who are clearly inspired by their trainer.

“In the past five years Camilla has helped so many students excel well beyond their own initial expectations by gaining language, literacy and digital skills in context, in and out of the classroom, through practical and project-based applications that connect them with the community and provide real-world work experience and opportunities.

Navitas Skilled Futures staff and partners (L-R) NSF Stakeholder Engagement Manager Genevieve Lewis, Sabira Sukurma (AMEP & Community Programs Manager, KU Children’s Services), NSF Volunteer Tutor Coordinator Marcella Aguilar, Margaret-Ann Goy (GM Head of Training, MAX), NSF Employment Programs Manager Kristy McNair, NSF General Manager, Jetinder Macfarlane, and NSF Project Manager Anthony Jakob.

“Through projects such as the Fairfield Art Project, My Food Story videos and the Reverse Garbage community garden, Camilla has helped give many students the tools and confidence to believe in themselves and change the course of their lives for the better.”

The AMEP 75th Anniversary Service Provider Conference Dinner was an opportunity to celebrate 75 years of the AMEP and to recognise the teachers, volunteers and students who have contributed to the success of the program. It was part of the AMEP Service Provider Conference, running for two days in Melbourne, June 6 and 7.

Genevieve will also participate today in a panel discussion of teachers, students and volunteers called “Empowered Through Language”, providing valuable insights on experiences with the AMEP, while NSF Volunteer Tutor Coordinator, Marcella Aguilar, is presenting at a “Connection to Community” session on the Volunteer Tutor Scheme.

*The Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) is funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs.

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